Six Stations of Life Pursued (2022)

Vivan Sundaram
Six Stations of Life Pursued
Mixed media Dimensions variable
Commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation
Courtesy of the artist and PHOTOINK, New Delhi


Vivan Sundaram works with contextual responsibility and radical contradiction, exploring shifts of medium, different ‘languages’, historical acuity and memory archives. Six Stations of a Life Pursued (2022) is a photography-based project signifying a journey with periodic halts that release pain, regain trust, behold beauty, recall horror and discard memory—a life pursued. History acquires an allegorical mode, yet the narrative rewinds history and Enwezor’s telling phrase, ‘thinking historically in the present’, offers itself as a clue. A life premised on history and rehearsed with activist resolve. Enwezor’s proposition suggests a narrative that is dynamic yet recursive in an ethically accountable way. In this composite work, Sundaram introduces different types of embodied encounters. The wounded body with proof of torture; mourning bodies in the realm of shadows; body as miasma floating on a city lake; familial bodies in the mode of a charade; and, at the end, the iconic body that dares to represent the historical present—of a place, a nation, a territory, a people. Each constellation is different in scale and form of address. In the ‘station’ titled Shelter, the incarcerated body reclaims a ‘way of being’ that allows history to survive in a seized present. The discards at the last ‘station’ are Objects that invite citizens to revere the concrete.